Wolof Empire

Wolof Empire was an empire, formed from the breakup of the Ghana Empire, in the Senegambian region.
The empire was formed in the early part of the 1200s.
The French in the middle of the 19th century conquered the territory. The Wolof Empire engaged in the slave trade, thousands of Afrodescendants were shipped from slave ports of Goree Island and the Forts of St. Louis.


Wolof Empire was ruled by a burba. The burba ruled over satellite states. Wolof society was broken into a rigid caste system, that determined life's function. One's caste determined who one could marry and one's profession. At the top was a small noble class, followed by a large citizen class. A small craftsman class of ironworkers and leatherworkers, including griots existed. At the bottom was a slave caste. 

In 1549, the empire broke apart, into the kingdoms of Kahoor(Cayo), Jollof(Djolof), Waalo, Sine, Saloum, and Bawol(Baol). Jollof was the dominant kingdom. Kahoor(Cayo), Bawol(Baol), Waalo, Sine, and Saloum paid tribute to Jollof. With increased trade with Europeans, the coastal kingdom began to acquire guns. This undermined the authority of the interior states like Jollof.


Most of the populace made a living farming millet and sorghum. Later with the arrival of the Europeans, peanut and gum arabic would be major focus of production.The gold of Bambuhu was a major source of wealth to the empire. The empire was tied in the trans-Saharan trade. Later it switched to Europeans at St. Louis and Gorée Island in ivory, gold and slave for European manufactured goods, the most important guns.

Works Cited

Appiah, Kwame Anthony and Gates, Henry Louis, Jr.(1999). Africana: the Encyclopedia of African and African American Experience. Basic Civitas Books, pp. 2005-2006. ISBN 0-465-00071-1

Davidson, Basil, Buah, F. K. ,and Ajayi, J.F. Ade(1966). A History of West Africa. Doubleday:New York, pp. 60-62.  Library of Congress Card #66-24317